We started the day with an overview of NASA’s history - which involves an impressive 132 spacecraft launches and over 900+ astronauts in space! Humans are launched into space from 3 locations: China, Russia (now Kazakhstan) and China. Currently NASA is not sending its own manned rockets into space, and our astronauts hitch a ride from Kazakhstan every time we want to go.
That doesn’t mean that NASA isn’t super busy- they are actually working on more projects than ever before. One of the most interesting projects is that they’re looking into going into deep space, capturing an asteroid, and bringing it back to orbit the moon for study.
Their ultimate goal, of course, is Mars. Their biggest concern with this is radiation and how to keep astronauts alive for both going to Mars AND coming home (Our NASA instructor remarked that NASA “has a very strict bring-people-home-alive policy”). They are currently building a rocket that will be ready for launch by 2019. They’re planning to send people into deep space- further than any other human has ever travelled! All of this is to prepare for their eventual goal of putting people on Mars.
After our morning talk, we were then were challenged to build “solar sails” that could automatically unfurl and be launched.
After lunch, we met with Ed Buckbee, who was the manager of the astronauts. It was his job to make sure the astronauts made it to where they need to be and to control publicity for NASA. He managed many of the flights between the late 1960s-1980s. He shared the program was successful because “failure was not an option:” He also spoke of the importance of working as a team. He advised, “Find out what you are good at, and make sure your part works.” Above all else, he urged us to strive for Mars and keep the dream of space alive.
After Ed’s talk, we had the chance to explore the Space and Rocket Museum. We got to go on all kinds of rides - one that simulated 0g floating, and one that simulated 3 Gs. The 3G simulator had us pushed to the back of our seats- it was hard to move even our fingers at times!
Before dinner we got our roles for our simulated mission tomorrow. Mrs. Craven is a mission specialist who gets to go on EVA (extra vehicle activity) space walk on Mars. Ms. Imhoff will be the commander of the mission. She’ll make sure that Mrs. Craven gets all of her experiments done and arrives back to Ashford safely.